Accuracy in Media

NBC’s Today Show co-host Matt Lauer is hoping to start this week on a better note than how it finished for him last week, with rumors swirling that he would be fired and the subsequent trashing he received for his co-hosting role during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

According to Radar Online, the National Enquirer reported that an NBC insider has told the paper that Lauer is facing the axe at the troubled show.

Today has been in turmoil since June when Ann Curry was fired as the show’s co-host after just one year on the job, due in part to the falling ratings of the then-number one morning program. But since Curry’s firing, which was rumored to have been partly engineered by Lauer, the show has fallen even further in the ratings, losing its ratings crown to ABC’s Good Morning America. It has become a symbol of discord and dysfunction.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Lauer was heavily criticized on Thursday for his stint as co-host of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a relatively sleepy affair, when he introduced the George and Ira Gershwin song title from the Broadway musical Nice Work If You Can Get It, as “Ess Wonderful,” rather than the correct pronunciation, “S’Wonderful” (a contraction between the words “It’s” and “wonderful”), unleashing a twitter tirade against Lauer for his ignorance of the famous song.

On the face of it, Lauer’s mispronunciation of a song at the parade doesn’t rank very high on the list of blunders that television hosts have committed over the years, but it does underscore the enmity that has built up against Lauer, particularly since the summer.

But getting rid of Lauer is not as simple as it seems. He signed a new multi-year contract in April that pays him a reported $25 million per year, and I doubt that NBC is willing to swallow the contract so soon after re-signing Lauer.

That doesn’t mean that Lauer’s long term future is assured at Today. But there is little doubt that NBC will be very patient with him as they try and resolve the problems at their signature show and cash cow, The Today Show.

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